A.M. Utah Valley Marathon, 2:41:31, 8th place.
The fields was loaded today, but the times were slow due to a headwind from about 7.5 to about 20. I felt the effects of headwind a lot. Up to 7.5 I was doing great. I worked together with Jordan Perry and Scott Keate, we traded leads every 4 minutes. Jon Kotter and three Kenyans were up ahead. Riley Cook and Bryant Jensen were behind but they caught up to us around 7. Our splits were 5:33, 5:32 (11:05), 5:31 (16:36), 5:31(22:07), 5:41 (27:48), then with some headwind/crosswind next two miles in 11:34 (39:22). Little did I know that I would have only one more mile in the race that would be under 6:00.
And then we got onto Hwy 189 heading to Provo, and the headwind started. Last night Scott expressed concerns about the headwind in the forecasts. I dismissed it saying the wind is never too bad when it does blow the wrong way, and it usually blows the right way anyway. However, today was an exception. It was more than just occasional gusts - it was steady and relentless, and gradually eating away at my hopes of a decent time. This was bad news for me for two reason. Slow time is one. Ability to compete is the other. Lately I have experienced problems with the headwind consistently slowing down more than what is usual even for me which is more than the average runner in my bracket. I tried to address them by doing speed into a headwind with no results. I am wondering if my lower spine experienced some deterioration in the last year. Regardless of the cause, it is a fact that at this point headwind is a serious competitive disadvantage for me.
I quickly went from being conversational to struggling to maintain contact with my partners. It was an odd feeling. I still felt like I could talk, the headwind did not tax my breathing. But I just did not have the power in the legs to go the pace, or so it felt. Perhaps the wind was changing the position of the torso which made it impossible due to the vertebral defect to get either good bounce out of the spinal column or push with the leg muscles effectively.
I struggled for about a mile, then lost the contact for good, and now had a problem. The headwind moved me down into a lower bracket, but I had been in a higher bracket for the first 7.5 miles which was enough to gap my current bracket by a lot. So I was alone, battling the headwind, and whoever would come from behind I would not likely be able to keep up with because anybody who could catch up would want to go faster. Those who would go the pace I could handle were too far behind to be able to close the gap. And that pace was somewhere in the 6:20-6:40 range. There was one 5:55 mile (downhill), after that no downhill could compensate for the wind for me. I got to 10 miles in 57:55, so that is 18:33, 6:11 average, but that was helped by that miracle 5:55 mile. 1:17:06 at 13 (19:11 for 3 miles, 6:24 avg), 1:17:53 at the half.
Things started to look ugly. I was concerned that inefficient headwind running could run me out of fuel, and then I would be jogging (more than I already was), and that jog could start very early, so this could be a very long day. Unlike my last marathon, though, I had good things going for me - I was healthy, and I had good opening miles, which is an indication of good fuel levels, and I also felt not too weak in the fuel department even with the headwind.
Nevertheless, the idea of 6:20s that early in the race that could eventually deteriorate into who knows what did not sound appealing to me at all. I really did not want to run any further. Nevertheless, I had taken a comp, and when I do I make it a matter of principle to finish unless there is a serious risk to my health. I knew that it would matter to Hyrum to have one more person in the results with a time under 2:50 especially on a day like this when sub-2:50 becomes a more rare commodity. And I did not want to set a bad example for my children by not finishing the race I could have finished. So I just pressed on hoping that if things got worse they would not get much worse.
Was still at sub 6:00 average at 15 - 1:29:50, but that was the last mile where I had sub-6:00 average. Got passed by a runner I did not recognize in the 16th mile. Tried to go with him, told myself try until 16th mile marker, but after about a quarter mile realized he was out of my bracket under these conditions. Saw Jeremy around mile 17, he ran with me for about half a mile or maybe a little more. It helped a lot. Kept watching my mile splits. They seemed to be stuck around 6:24. Well, at least they are not getting slower, and maybe in the last 6 there will be no headwind.
20 miles in 2:01:48. So 31:58 for the last 5. That is almost exactly 6:24 per mile, 2 seconds faster. If I hold that, that is a 40:00 10 K, add a little slippage in the last miles, so we are looking at 2:42. With the wind this is better than embarrassing.
The headwind subsided some in the last 10 K, although it was still present. I began to use the knowledge of my recently discovered condition to help with the speed. A way to partially compensate for the missing chunk of L-4 on the right side is to contract the right glut to help with support. I've always known that if I managed to do that at the right time during ground contact I run faster. But now I knew why, so I remembered it at this point in the race. It was not easy, it did not want to contract, the timing of contraction was difficult, it felt like a complex acrobatic maneuver that required focus. But it obeyed me somewhat, and I was able to slightly pick up the pace. My last 10 K was 39:43 at a fairly steady pace which is 6:23 average, and I was able to finish faster than the projected 2:42 by 29 seconds.
Ahead of me - two Kenyans went 1-2, Jon Kotter third, then Bryan Jensen, Jordan Perry, Runner X (will find out who he was when the results are posted), and Scott Keate. At least that's all I could gather at the finish line. Apparently Riley and one of the Kenyans dropped out. Not sure about their times, I left before they got posted at the finish, and they have not been posted online yet. But I do know that Jordan got around 2:35 and Scott around 2:37.
Benjamin took 2nd place overall in the 10 K with 38:42, which is now his 10 K PR. During the awards, the announcer first observed that the third place overall finisher was 15, then she realized that the second place overall was 13. Benjamin remarked it would have been funny if the first overall was 11, but that was not the case.
P.M. 0.3 with William. Kids did their runs. Jenny and Julia did 2, Joseph did a total of 2 including his track meet, Jacob did 1. Joseph ran 800 meters in the USATF Utah Junior Championship. He was very excited about it, and did quite well winning Sub-Bantam boys in 3:16.13. In fact, he beat all the Bantam boys as well, and lost by a second to a Bantam girl - they were all in the same heat, but the awards were separate. What is impressive is that he managed to run a negative split (1:39/1:37) in spite of the windy conditions. Then we saw a funny line on the stadium display - "Joseph Pachev Fast 3:16.13". Fast Running Blog, which is Joseph's team, got appropriately abbreviated to just Fast.